The Tampa Bay Buccaneers open their 2020 NFL postseason on the road against the Washington Football Team on Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland in an NFC wildcard game. Tampa Bay finished its first regular-season with Tom Brady under center with an overall record of 11-5, which was good enough for second place in the NFC South one game behind the first-place New Orleans Saints.
Although Washington finished the regular season below .500 at 7-9, the Football Team won the NFC East and received the right to host a wild-card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Washington came on strong during the second half of the season winning five of its final seven games including an NFC East-clinching 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football in Week 17. Veteran QB Alex Smith is back under center and will face a difficult challenge against a tough Buccaneers defense.
Tampa Bay is more than just Tom BradyWhile Tom Brady brought leadership, experience, Super Bowl success and massive talent to Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers are more than just the G.O.A.T. On defense, Tampa Bay has an above-average pass rush that resulted in 48 quarterback sacks led by the 9.5 sacks of Jason Pierre-Paul. The tough defense against the pass is superseded by an excellent front seven against the run that resulted in Tampa Bay allowing an average of just 22.2 points per game during the regular season, which was seventh in the NFL.
However, at the end of the day, the success for Tampa Bay will be determined by how well Brady plays against a tough Washington defense. The 43-year-old Brady passed for 4,633 yards with 40 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. Helping to keep defenses honest, Ronald Jones II rushed for 978 yards and seven touchdowns to lead all rushers. Brady's favorite target throughout the season has been Mike Evans who has 70 receptions for 1006 yards and 13 touchdowns. Evans became the first player in NFL history to have 1000-plus yards receiving in each of his first seven seasons breaking a record that he and Randy Moss held at six seasons.
Injury Report: Tampa Bay has a laundry list of injuries. Questionable for Saturday are Carlton Davies, LeSean McCoy and Jason Pierre-Paul. Mike Evans is listed as probable. Cornerback Carlton Davis, linebacker Devin White, and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter are all out.
Defense must stop BradyThe Washington defense allowed just 20.6 points per game which was third-best in the NFL and the defense must come up big against Brady on Saturday. Washington is ranked sixth in the NFL in quarterback sacks with 47 and is in the top 5 in pressure-rate versus opposing quarterbacks. Defensive ends Chase young and Montez Sweat had a combined 16.5 sacks during the regular season. Washington head coach Ron Rivera knows that Tom Brady is not at his best when under the rest and will have his pass-rushers full-out each time Brady drops back to pass.
On the other side of the ball. Washington will have veteran quarterback Alex Smith under center, but that could be a problem as Smith is not very mobile and could face pressure from a pass rush led by Pierre-Paul. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson, who has been the top playmaker for the Football Team during its resurgence in the second half of the season, will face the NFL's top defense against the run that has allowed an average of only 80.6 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.
Injury Report: Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, Alex Smith and Brandon Scherff are all questionable, while Thomas Davis Sr., Kevin Pierre-Louis and Thaddeus Moss are out.
- Washington is 1-5 ATS in the last six during January
- Tampa Bay is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 as the favorite on the road
- The Buccaneers are 4-1 ATS in the last five overall